Selenium is a naturally occurring mineral our feline friends need in their diet to keep them healthy and boost their immune systems. While too much selenium isn't good for Fluffy, most feline diets on the market contain just the right amount to maintain your kitty's health and well-being.
Selenium is a type of mineral that is found in animal-based proteins like meat and fish. Your kitty's body uses it to produce antioxidants like glutathione peroxidase and superoxide dismutase. These antioxidants help your furry friend's body fight chemicals known as free radicals, which are byproducts of her cell's natural functioning. These free radicals may cause lots of health issues and damage to her body's DNA, proteins and fats. Selenium helps produce antioxidants in your kitty's body, let her combat these free radicals, help her immune system and overall health.
Kitties need selenium in small amounts because too much of this trace mineral can be toxic or lead to health issues. According to the health profiles developed by the Association of American Feed Control Officials, kitties of all ages need 0.1 mg/kg. A 2003 study published in the "Journal of Animal Physiology and Animal Nutrition" found that kittens need approximately 0.15 mg/kg of selenium in their diets. The study went on to recommend supplementation of the diet by a cat food maker with only 0.5 mg/kg because most of a kitty's diet would come from meats that contain 30 percent organic selenium naturally. Remember, kitties are carnivores that need meat as the primary ingredient in their diets.
Deficiencies in selenium can lead to heart disease, thyroid issues, heart and skeletal muscle issues, cataracts, cancer and red blood cell disorders, according to "The Pet Lover's Guide to Natural Healing for Cats & Dogs." Without selenium in your kitty's diet, she may experience issues with dry skin and cracked paw pads. Selenium can even help kitties dealing with arthritis and cancer. Too much selenium can result in the development of issues like hyperthyroidism, according to the Animal Endocrine Clinic. Meats like tuna are very high in selenium. To prevent your kitty from eating high-selenium foods all the time, vary the types of food you feed your kitty so she's not just chowing down on tuna-based ones.
Purchase food for your kitty that is approved by the AAFCO and lists on the label that it is "complete and balanced" so that it contains the correct amount of selenium. While there is no maximum amount of selenium for kitties recommended by the FDA, too much can be dangerous, although felines tolerate larger amounts of it better than our canine companions. Organic forms of selenium are easier for your kitty's body to assimilate than inorganic ones and are less toxic. Most of her selenium should come from organic, animal-based sources rather than forms such as sodium selenite. If you want to supplement your kitty's diet with selenium, consult with your vet to see if such supplementation is needed by your kitty and how much to give.
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration: Selecting Nutritious Pet Foods
- Journal of Animal Science: Selenium Status in Adult Cats and Dogs Fed High Levels of Dietary Inorganic and Organic Selenium
- Asian Journal of Animal Sciences: Role of Selenium in Pets Health and Nutrition: A Review
- The Pet Lover's Guide to Natural Healing for Cats & Dogs; Barbara Fougère
- Journal of Animal Physiology and Animal Nutrition: Determination of the Selenium Requirement in Kittens
- Nutrient Requirements of Cats; National Research Council (U.S.). Subcommittee on Cat Nutrition
- WebMD: Selenium
- Vet's All Natural: Zinc and Selenium
- Total Health Magazine: Selenium For Pet Health
- Natural Healing For Dogs And Cats; Prevention Health Books
- Animal Endocrine Clinic: Why Has Hyperthyroidism in Cats Reached Epidemic Levels?
- Cat Health Guide: Care and Treatment of a Hyperthyroidism Cat
- Canine and Feline Endocrinology and Reproduction; Edward C. Feldman and Richard William Nelson
- Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images